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Street Fighter Sonnets #4

by Nick Holloway

In the run-up to the release of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li at the cinema tomorrow, Ross Sutherland is sharing his sonnets based on the Street Fighter universe.

The subject of today’s sonnet is Zangief, a Russian wrestler fighting for a crumbling republic. When Street Fighter 2 was released, it was obviously a transformational time for the Soviet Union. Tetris had just been released on the Gameboy. Yeltsin Edition.

We join Zangief preparing for the tournament, wrestling bears on an island off the coast of Siberia.


Arriving on the black isle’s shores alone,

the Russian picks his partner from the trees.

Fur stinking of shit, its idle drone

a waltz, the final dance of amputees.

His thumb pushes back its narrow skull,

The claw lacerations masked by Ginseng,

The thin air, leaving his sense so dull

that the snap of its neck is unconvincing.

As the body cracks the ice, slick with red,

He swears on the stream’s dismantling freeze

To fight for Moscow, where the brawl has spread

to spectators, judges and referees.

To bandage with flags his hungry veins.

To bleed enough to see stars again.